Vera J Walden
Oliver had hardly touched his breakfast, whereas Vera made her entire plate disappear. He told his wife he would not be able to go through with it, but Vera, his vibrant escort, reassured him that if she could get out of bed every morning; he could surely get on the train and make this terribly long business trip happen. It was always a sacrifice, to have to leave her comfortable bed for something like this, except she was broke and needed the money. She had more patience after the free meal.
Shortly after the early dawn they waited at the station, watching others like themselves discussing amongst the noise and movement. Oliver was busy breathing in and out, an exercise his wife said would ease his crippling anxiety about the journey. Vera side glanced him the entire time, silently hoping that if she didn’t say anything he’d just suddenly feel better. But to say she didn’t pity him was a true lie.
He slowed his therapeutic routine, not quite blubbering yet, and she was relieved enough to look away. Peace was a fleeting visitor, for she thought her ears picked up a faint sound that could have been retching. She gasped and fled ever closer to his side, shrugged off her sweater and wrapped it around him like a bib. It was old anyway. "Look, you can go out in public and cover your suit with this morning’s breakfast if you want to, but not today. Say you don’t go,” Vera’s hands seemed to do most of the talking, “not only will this end in a financial train wreck for you, it’ll also affect your w -”
She puckered her lips when she became cognizant of her error. She pressed a finger to her lips, sheepishly. “That could’ve gone better.”
Oliver wanted out of this nightmare. Her choice of words were poorly expressed. Her idea of comforting only worsened his primary fear of trains, and his legs seemed to move on their own accord. Running and screaming. Not just him, but Vera too. She was young and well meaning, with enough concern to sacrifice her sweater, but he assumed she was just doing this for the money. Money wouldn’t matter if they died on the way.
He was almost startled into stopping by a deafening shout: "Don’t you bail on me, Oliver!” Vera looked around after she got his attention and spotted the train. Bulky and steam-draped, but ready, just the same. Beyond what she was normally comfortable with doing, the panicked mess was running farther away from her, so she ran a little faster this time and grabbed him around the waist. He dropped the sweater he’d been holding and fought her like a wild bull.
They both fell to the floor with a resounding thud. She struggled to her feet in time to see the petrified business man - he was going to make a run for it, yet again, already scrambling to get back up. She seized his ankles and released a frustrated, girlish roar. The man went skidding and twisting across the floor with Vera fiercely dragging him to the mode of transportation he hated so dearly. “Please, let me go!” he screamed.
Although ambitious and keeping her goal in check, Vera had an inkling that she was growing annoyed for all the wrong reasons. The maybe surfaced in her mind: the fact he was making her work harder than she needed to? She shook her head. That couldn’t have been it. Vera let go of his ankles, grabbed his hand with both of her own to lift him up to full height, and said nothing.
Vera and Oliver were in the train, where Vera was selecting seats. Oliver looked up from the floor and nervously confronted the window. His fear constricted logic. He went to the window. One jump and he could guarantee not riding the hellish thing on wheels. The impact wouldn’t kill him, not as badly as a train crash could. He tried to pry it open. Vera had no choice but to intervene.
Between the available seatings, Oliver had begun to fight back. Vera caught up with him and reached for his arm tentatively, actually trying her very best to say something a little more comforting and sympathetic. What she didn’t count on was having the right side of her face connect with his sizable suitcase. Vera saw double and cradled the injured area before she could finally feel anything other than pain. “You hit me in the face with a suitcase, you stupid jerk!”
When she was able to focus her sight on him, she saw nothing but distress and shame in his eyes. He was going through his worst nightmare, after all. Vera understood him more than he knew, just not enough to accept the apology that followed shortly after. She sat down after he did, wondering, I’m still super cute, right? She was only starting to doubt it because some minor swelling took place.
She was looking rather coyote-ugly now.
They arrived a short while later. He looked only slightly shabby, but Oliver was so pleased with himself (for surviving) that he nailed the interview with just personality alone. He left the building and saw miserable Vera, pressing a bag of ice to her cheek. “How’d it go?” she asked, too sweetly.
She met his eyes but couldn't hold them long enough to wait for an answer. She found the fist she made too interesting and swung at him, striking him faster than a snake. “I’m glad.” Vera deadpanned. Oliver landed on his back and held his face. She listened to his groaning, and when she was over the strange satisfaction it brought her, she sat down beside him and passed bag so he too could apply it to his cheek.
By then she had forgiven him.